Dan Buettner is the author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest and Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. He has done research on the distinctive habits of people with the greatest longevity around the world. Yesterday on The Dylan Ratigan Show he talked about happiness. One thing to note his how important social networks of trust are to happiness and health.
A great many people belong to very bad religions in no small part because they provide the kinds of social networks, feelings of trust, and opportunities for charity that Buettner is talking about here. Atheists, if we are going to be rational about combating the influence of authoritarian religions, have to double down our efforts to create alternatives that do not require people to trade off their brains for deep social connections that are oriented around service to others.
Buettner discusses his research on the longest living people in the world in a fascinating TED video:
Did you catch the part where he said being part of a faith-based community adds 4-14 years to life? Atheists need to figure out rationalistic ways to systematically replicate the life enhancing communal mechanisms that make that happen. Faith is a vice. Many people embrace that vice because doing so is interconnected for them with a strategy for gaining other benefits. If we can provide the benefits without the irrationalism, i.e., without the beliefs that eschew concern for evidence, then we can take away any need for the average person to compromise their reason for their happiness.